Olympic Agora Tokyo 2020

The extensive programme at the Olympic Agora in Tokyo included an exhibition of treasures from The Olympic Museum; a permanent, site-specific legacy sculpture by French artist Xavier Veilhan; a photography installation by Japanese artist Rinko Kawauchi; special installations by Japanese artist Makoto Tojiki and Canadian studio Moment Factory; a series of new artworks by Olympian and Paralympian artists-in-residence; an online platform featuring a diverse suite of digital presentations and virtual tours accessible to global audiences; as well as an Agora Café that enhanced the visitor experience.

The host city’s central Nihonbashi district was dressed in “Olympic Agora” colours, with special banners and other displays that included iconic posters of different editions of the Olympic Games throughout the 20th century.

Another highlight was a large-scale reproduction of the Tokyo 2020 medal (pictured below), created specifically for the Olympic Agora. Installed in the Atrium of the Mitsui Tower, it offered a meeting point and special photo opportunity for visitors to the area.

© 2021 – IOC / Tomonari Sasaki – All rights reserved

The Olympic Spirit Exhibition

The Olympic Spirit exhibition showcased 145 artefacts and objects from the unparalleled collections of The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was presented in three main sections: “History and Symbols”, “Olympic values expressed by athletes”, and “The unifying power of Olympism”.

Highlights included a complete set of Summer Games medals and torches, including those of Tokyo 2020, select costumes from past opening ceremonies, and iconic equipment and kits worn by inspirational athletes. The exhibition celebrated some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Olympic Games.

Legacy sculpture:
“The Audience” by Xavier Veilhan

To mark the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and contribute to the legacy of these Games, the OFCH commissioned Xavier Veilhan, who represented France at the 57th Venice Art Biennale in 2017, to create a permanent installation interpreting the Olympic values. Known for his exhibitions challenging viewers’ perceptions, Veilhan presented a life-sized sculptural work entitled "The Audience", consisting of five human figures of various ages, genders and nationalities. This legacy sculpture remains in Tokyo as a permanent commemoration of the Games.

"The Audience" paid tribute to the people who gather in celebration of the Olympic Games – both onsite and digitally around the world. For this unprecedented edition of the Olympic Games in the context of the COVID pandemic, the sculpture gave presence to those who were absent physically but attended in spirit, according to the artist.

"The Audience" is the first-ever permanent commission by the OFCH for the Olympic Art Visions programme. The installation follows earlier contemporary art projects commissioned by the OFCH for Olympic Art Visions, including JR’s monumental artworks for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Leandro Erlich’s Ball Game at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. The Olympic Art Visions programme aims to bring people together through the presentation of pioneering artworks in public spaces, and thus to encourage a fresh dialogue around the Olympic ideals and values through artistic expression.


Installations

Standing more than four metres tall in Nihonbashi’s Fukutoku Plaza, Japanese artist Makoto Tojiki’s site-specific installation "Solidarity and Collaboration" was inspired by the 4x100m relay race and the passing on of the Olympic values to the next generation. The work showed two figures passing a baton in a relay-race motion in a representation of collaboration, shared responsibility and team play. It was especially dramatic when illuminated at night.

IOC / Junpei Kato

In 2019, the OFCH commissioned the celebrated Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi to document an initiative by the Japanese Olympic Committee aimed at connecting Olympic athletes with disaster-affected communities in the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The images captured by the artist inspire hope for recovery and rebirth, and underscore the joy and healing that can be found in the practice of sport and the friendships it fosters. The 16 works were displayed to the public for the first time in a special installation entitled “What is the Joy of the Future?”

IOC / Junpei Kato

The Canadian contemporary multimedia studio Moment Factory presented an original interactive light installation, entitled “Podium Memories”. The installation featured three deconstructed Olympic podiums that symbolised the athletes’ hopes and dreams, and both victory and defeat, in sport. Visitors were invited to “step up” to the podium and unlock its memories by triggering, through their own movement, different aspects of Olympic history, including a curated display of rarely seen Olympic archival images and audio-visual footage from the Olympic Games throughout time.

Olympian Artists-in-Residence:
The Noren Curtains

The Olympic Agora at Tokyo 2020 presented a group exhibition of new artworks by five Olympians and one Paralympian with incredible artistic talent. In a tribute to the Japanese noren, the traditional curtain-like fabric typically hung in shop entrances, each artist contributed a series of panel curtains depicting their interpretation of the Olympic spirit and values.

The words spanned photography, painting, graffiti and graphic design. A number of curtains have been donated to the Japanese Olympic Museum for future displays.


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